Duke customers outraged over higher August bill

St. Petersburg, Florida -- Duke Energy customers are outraged again and so is at least one state representative.

The company is charging them a longer billing cycle during the hottest month of the year.

The company said it must re-route its meter readers because of customer growth. It started re-routing customers in May in Central Florida first, according to its spokesperson Sterling Ivey.

"Now it's Pinellas' turn to be re-routed," said Ivey. "This will only impact 60 percent of our customers, the other 40 percent will have up to 12 days added to their bill."

"It's a rip off, it's a theft!" said a Duke Energy customer Chris Brudy.

RELATED: Extended billing cycle upsets customers

Pinellas County Duke Energy ratepayers held up their hand made stop signs downtown at the company's office. They want to stop Duke Energy from charging them for extra days on their August billing cycle.

"Here is the outrage in Tallahassee?" said Rep. Dwight Dudley, the Democratic representative from District 68. "Where are our leaders in Tallahassee? Why aren't we calling for an investigation? I am asking the governor, the Cabinet, the speaker, the president of the Senate, to register some outrage and ask how happened by investigating this additional scheme to take money from consumers."

Dudley has shouted in protest at Duke Energy here before when the company took $ 5.1 billion from its customers to build two nuclear plants that failed. Now, Duke Energy says it must take more money from customers to make meter routes more convenient.

"Here we go again!" he said.

The problem with adding up to 12 billing days is that could possibly increase a customer's kilowatts hour usage. If a consumer goes over 1,000 kilowatts, then they pay a higher rate for your power. It's more likely to happen with the added billing days.

Duke charges $11.34 for every 100 kilowatt hours up to 1,000 hours, but then charges 13.70 for each 100 kilowatt hours above that.

"We weren't just all born yesterday," he said.

Dudley argues this is the worst time of the year to do this. He said there is no reason Duke Energy cannot add additional billing cycle days when it is the coldest month of the year and save customers money.

"Don't calculate it in the hottest part of the year to maximize your profits. It's wrong. It's just wrong."

Duke Energy said it tried to avoid hitting customers during the holidays.

OPTION:Duke offers other payment plans

Duke spokesperson Ivey sent 10 News this statement: "We understand the frustration and confusion our customers are experiencing in relation to our reroute project and we are reviewing all our options to assist affected customers. We hear their concerns and will work to improve the customer experience for similar projects going forward.

"We will continue to stay engaged with customers impacted by this reroute and have several billing programs available to assist customers as it relates to this project and normal usage related to warmer weather and encourage any customer interested in discussing their bill to contact us 800-700-8744."


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